Abuse baby’s birth secret

Waikato Times 04 March 2010

Child Youth and Family did not know a Hamilton toddler born into a family with a “horrendous history” of child abuse existed until her death last year. Hail-Saige McClutchie, 22 months, died in the early hours of September 27 last year after being taken to Waikato Hospital with serious head injuries she suffered at a Morrinsville house the night before. At the time Child, Youth and Family (CYF) admitted Hail-Saige’s “wider” family were known to them, but said they had had no prior involvement with Hail-Saige herself.

This morning CYF chief executive Ray Smith confirmed to the Waikato Times this was because the agency had not known her parents – who they’d already removed two children from – went on to have another baby, Hail-Saige. They were alerted to her existence only after her death. A former CYF social worker who contacted the Times said pressure to meet performance targets could have played a part in Hail-Saige’s birth going unnoticed. “Social workers are under pressure to meet performance outcomes with many cases being closed without any intervention,” he said. Referrals to other community organisations were becoming the preferred option for CYF, with no further monitoring by CYF. “This is budget-driven and more children will be abused.”